Justia Family Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Nevada
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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court dismissing Wife's complaint alleging legal malpractice arising from legal advice given in the course of drafting an estate plan, holding that the claim was barred by the statute of limitations.After a decree of divorce issued divorcing Husband and Wife Husband appealed. The Supreme Court partly reversed the divorce decree, determining that assets in the parties' spendthrift trusts created in a separate property agreement could not be levied against through court order, that the separate property agreement was valid, and that the parties' property was avidly separated into their respective separate property trusts when it was executed. Wife subsequently filed a legal malpractice complaint against Attorney, who previously assisted the parties in creating their estate plan, seeking $5 million in damages. The district court dismissed the complaint, concluding that the legal malpractice claim was transactional and that that the statute of limitations barred the claim. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) there was no need to toll commencement of the limitations period for transactional malpractice claims; and (2) Wife's legal malpractice claim was transactional, and therefore, the litigation-malpractice tolling rule did not apply. View "Nelson v. Burr" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the order of the district court finding that Nev. Rev. Stat. 432B.393(3)(c) violates due process, holding that the statute does not infringe on the fundamental liberty interest a parent has in the care and custody of his or her child and thus does not violate due process.Section 432B.393(3)(c) relieves a child welfare services agency from its duty to provide reasonable efforts to reunify a child with his or her parent if a court finds that the parents' parental rights were involuntarily terminated with respect to the child's sibling. A court master recommended that the district court find section 432B.393(3)(c) unconstitutional because, for purposes of terminating the parent-child relationship, it could lead to a presumption that the parent is unfit without any consideration of present circumstances. The Supreme Court vacated the district court's order, holding (1) insofar as section 432B.393(3)(c) relieves an agency of making reunification efforts it does not infringe on a parent's fundamental liberty interest in the care and custody of his or her child and therefore does not violate due process; and (2) although the district court erred, the petition must be denied as moot. View "Washoe County Human Services v. District Court" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the district court setting aside a judgment confirming an arbitration award under Nev. R. Civ. P. 60(b) (NRCP 60(b)), holding that Nevada Arbitration Rule (NAR) 19(C) bars a district court from setting aside a judgment confirming gan arbitration award under NRCP 60(b).On appeal from a district court judgment confirming an arbitration award under NRCP 60(b), Appellant argued that NAR 19(C) barred the district court from applying NRCP 60(b) to set aside the judgment. The Supreme Court agreed and remanded the case with instructions to reinstate the judgment, holding that NAR 19(C) barred post-judgment relief under NRCP 60(b). View "Arce v. Sanchez" on Justia Law

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In this opinion considering whether an indemnification provision in a property settlement incident to a divorce decree was enforceable where the divorcing veteran agreed to reimburse his or her spouse if the veteran elected to receive military disability pay rather than retirement benefits, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court granting the spouse's motion to enforce the reimbursement provision of the divorce decree, holding that there was no error.After noting that federal law precludes state courts from dividing disability pay as community property in allocating each party's separate pay, the Supreme Court held (1) even if the parties agreed on a reimbursement provision that the state court would lack authority to otherwise mandate, state courts do not improperly divide disability pay when they enforce the terms of a negotiated property settlement as res judicata; and (2) a court does not abuse its discretion by awarding pendente lite attorney fees under Nev. Rev. Stat. 125.040 without analyzing the factors set forth in Burnzell v. Golden Gate National Bank, 455 P.2d 31 (Nev. 1969). View "Martin v. Martin" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court admitting a will to probate that was drafted by or for the decedent in Portugal and was written in Portuguese, where the decedent was domiciled in Maryland and the subject property at death was a house in Nevada, holding that the district court did not err in applying the will at issue to the decedent's entire estate.After the decedent died in Nevada, Respondent, the decedent's surviving spouse, filed a petition for general administration of the estate and to admit the will to probate. Appellant filed an objection to the petition, asserting that the will could not be probated in Nevada because it was signed in a foreign country. The district court admitted the will to probate. The Supreme Court affirmed, (1) the laws of relevant foreign states must be taken into consideration when evaluating the identity of an "authorized person" for the purpose of implementing the Uniform International Wills Act (UIWA), codified as Nev. Rev. Stat. Chapter 133A; (2) even if it is executed in a foreign county, a will that fails to comply with the UIWA can be probated in Nevada if it complies with Chapter 133; and (3) Appellant was not entitled to a will contest during the proceedings below. View "In re Estate of Sweet" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court establishing child custody, visitation, and child support holding that the district court erred by exceeding the cap set forth in NAC 425.150(1)(f).Father in this case had a monthly income of approximately $38,000, and Mother's monthly income was approximately $5,000. Mother sought an upward adjustment to Father's child support obligation. The district court ordered Father to pay $3,500 per month in child support. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) section 425.150(1)(f) plainly caps the limit of any upward adjustment to Mother's monthly obligation amount; and (2) the district court did not err by basing an upward adjustment on NAC 425.150(1)(f), but the court did err by ordering an upward adjustment in excess of the other party's total obligation. View "Matkulak v. Davis" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court confirming a foreign custody order, holding that the language of Nev. Rev. Stat. 125A.465 is plain and unambiguous and that the challenges to the registration of the foreign custody order were untimely.At issue was the proper interpretation of the portion of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act that precludes a party from challenging the registration of foreign child custody orders under section 125A.465 if the party fails to do so within twenty days of receiving notice of the request to register. Appellant, the father to the two minor children whose custody was at issue, filed a challenge to Respondent's attempt to register. The district court gave full faith and credit to the order and registered it. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that under section 125A.465's plain and unambiguous language this Court must apply the statute's twenty-day deadline to preclude untimely challenges to the registration of a foreign custody order. View "Blount v. Blount" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals held that when a district court seeks to determine if the movant has demonstrated a prima facie case for modification of child custody under Rooney v. Rooney, 853 P.2d 123 (Nev. 1993), the court must generally consider only the properly-alleged facts in the movant's verified pleadings, declarations, or affidavits and may not consider alleged facts or offers of proof provided by the nonmoving party.Despite announcing the above general rule, the Supreme Court also announced an exception that a district court may look to the nonmovant's evidentiary support when it "conclusively establishes" the falsity of the movant's allegations. The Court's opinion further reiterated that a movant must first show the district court with specific, properly-alleged facts that his or her motion to modify child custody is potentially meritorious on its face before courts will decide a case fully upon its merits. The Court then held that because the movant's declarations in this case established a prima facie case for modification, the district court abused its discretion in denying her motion without holding an evidentiary hearing. View "Myers v. Haskins" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court concluding that Respondent was conclusively presumed to be the child's legal father based on positive DNA test results and that his status as such gave him rights incident to a parent-child relationship, holding that there was no error.After determining that Respondent was the biological father of the child at issue the court entered a child custody decision awarding Respondent joint physical custody with the child's mother. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court correctly interpreted and applied the Nevada Parentage Act (NPA), Nev. Rev. Stat. Chapter 126, in concluding that Respondent was conclusively presumed to be the child's legal father based on the DNA test results; and (2) the district court's order establishing joint physical custody comported and the evidence and the preferences set forth in Nev. Rev. Stat. Chapter 125C. View "Martinez v. Avila, Jr." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the order of the district court awarding retroactive child support in a paternity action initiated after the child reached the age of majority, holding that the three-year statute of limitations to bring a paternity action after the child reaches the age of majority applies to a parent's request for retroactive child support.Mother and Father had one child together. More than one year after the child turned eighteen, Mother filed a paternity action against Father in order to seek back child support. Mother asked the district court to recognize the parties' previous agreement for $400 per month under Nev. Rev. Stat. 126.900(1) and alternatively argued that, even absent an agreement, she was entitled to retroactive child support. The district court denied relief. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) Mother's request for retroactive child support was timely; (2) because Mother was permitted to seek retroactive child support the district court abused its discretion by concluding that it did not have the authority to grant relief; and (3) because Father did not make a promise in writing to make monthly support payments, the district court correctly denied Mother's section 126.900(1) claim. View "Hargrove v. Ward" on Justia Law